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Ravens News 2/15: Versatile Offense and more

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NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens hire Todd Monken as new offensive coordinator - Eric Edholm

Georgia leaned on the run game and its defense to win consecutive national titles. But Monken’s work with quarterback Stetson Bennett IV, who was considered a fringe NFL prospect entering last season, can’t go overlooked. Bennett stepped up in both title runs and was named a Heisman Trophy finalist despite having to walk on at the school initially and take the junior-college route before earning a starting job.

Will the Ravens suddenly open things up under Monken? Interestingly, he also has served as an NFL offensive coordinator twice — with the Buccaneers from 2016 to 2018 and with the Browns in 2019 — and wasn’t afraid to call a pass-heavy offense then.

Working primarily with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick in Tampa Bay, Monken’s offenses ranked 16th, third and fourth, respectively, in the NFL in terms of pass attempts. The Bucs also ranked fourth and first, respectively, in passing yards in 2017 and 2018, although all three of his offenses in Tampa Bay ranked near the bottom of the NFL in interception percentage.

In his one year in Cleveland, Monken’s offense was a bit more run-heavy during Baker Mayfield’s first full year as a starter. Of course, Monken and then-Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens were let go after a 6-10 season that year.

Ravens hire Georgia’s Todd Monken as offensive coordinator - Jonas Shaffer

Monken’s Georgia offenses, like Roman’s in Baltimore, leaned on their talented tight ends and overpowering running games. But before heading to Georgia in 2020, Monken also coordinated productive NFL aerial attacks that relied heavily on three-wide-receiver formations. He served as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coordinator from 2016 to 2018 and the Cleveland Browns’ coordinator in 2019, though he didn’t call plays.

At Oklahoma State, where Monken served as offensive coordinator from 2011 to 2012, he ran a variation of the Air Raid offense, the pass-first attack developed by Hal Mumme and popularized by Mike Leach.

In Baltimore, Monken will take control of an offense that should have star quarterback Lamar Jackson, a talented offensive line and deep tight end room returning in 2023. The Ravens were the NFL’s best rushing team under Roman over the past four years, but their passing game struggled at times, undercut by subpar wide receiver talent and suboptimal play designs. After leading the league in passing efficiency in 2019, according to Football Outsiders, the team finished 17th, 16th and 16th over the next three seasons.

Ravens hire Georgia’s Todd Monken as offensive coordinator: How will Lamar Jackson fit? - Emerson & Zrebiec

What Monken brings to the Ravens

Monken left the NFL for Georgia in order to call plays again, and had a great three-year run, modernizing the offense into one that won two national championships. While the Georgia’s defense got the headlines for the 2021 season, the offense was also very good — fourth nationally in yards per play — and then even better in 2022, averaging 501 yards and 41 points per game.

Monken’s scheme utilized a double-tight end formation as essentially the base offense, turning Brock Bowers into an All-American and Darnell Washington into a probable first-round pick. That made him attractive to John Harbaugh and the Ravens, with their use of tight ends, and Monken was not fazed by Jackson’s uncertain future in Baltimore.

How will Monken mesh with Jackson?

Monken will fit with Jackson just fine, assuming that Jackson is indeed the team’s starting quarterback in 2023 and beyond. Monken has shown an ability to adapt to his quarterback and his personnel throughout his career. The Ravens need to open up their passing game and do more from a creativity standpoint. However, they can’t totally abandon their strengths either.

Monken seems like a good fit for the Ravens as they try to better marry their powerful running game and a competent passing attack, a mix that was elusive Roman.

Where can the Ravens find a wide receiver? Here are potential fits in free agency, the draft and trades. - Childs Walker

Salary-cap casualties

Robert Woods: The Tennessee Titans traded a sixth-round pick to obtain Woods before last season, but he did not produce as hoped for them, catching 53 passes on a team-high 91 targets for just 527 yards and two touchdowns. Though he was never a Hopkins- or Thomas-level star, Woods is just a few years removed from being a far more productive receiver for the Rams. The Titans need to rebuild their offense, and Woods is owed a $13.75 million base salary in 2023, so the math points toward a release. He could provide depth for the Ravens as a modestly priced veteran.

Adam Thielen: The Minnesota Vikings need to shed salary and could save $13.4 million by releasing their veteran wide receiver. Thielen is five years removed from his last Pro Bowl, but at age 32, he’s still a durable, 6-2 target who caught 14 touchdown passes as recently as 2020. The Ravens reportedly expressed interest in trading for him in 2020, so perhaps they would see him as an experienced complement to Bateman and a 2023 draft pick.

2023 NFL Draft: Early- and late-round fits for all 32 NFL teams - Trevor Sikkema


Early Pick: CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State

Late Pick: WR A.T. Perry, Wake Forest

With cornerback being a major potential need for the Ravens, hitting a strong class at the position in the first round would be to their advantage. The long, tall Porter would be just what they’re looking for. As many will note, however, they also need wide receiver help, specifically players who can win vertically. At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Perry would give Baltimore both a bigger wide receiver and one who has a knack for winning deep down the field. He recorded a 16.2-yard average depth of target over the past two seasons.